The Magic Formula for Great Wedding Photos – Image of the Week #411

Last week, I was doing some spring cleaning on the Farm Blog and I came across our first ever Farmers Image Of The Week. It was by Neil Thomas Douglas and I remember deciding to create this weekly accolade to celebrate the hard work and creativity of our community. It makes me feel very proud that through everything over the last few years, we have kept this going. We’ve now had hundreds of winners and seen a lot of inspirational photos. But here we are coming full circle as once again Neil is this week’s winner.

Great wedding photos are often the result of a combination of elements, most of which the photographer has some level of control over.

First of all, before the wedding even takes place a trust needs to be established with the couple. Ideally, they would also understand that they might actively have to participate in order to elevate their images. If you book clients that invest not just financially but also emotionally in their photography then some magic can happen. Neil is very careful with guiding his clients ahead of their wedding and setting the expectation that if he sees an opportunity for a shot, he will invite them to come out of the wedding celebrations to create it.

Good light makes a huge difference, everything and everyone looks better in good light. So being able to plan for that and make the best of it is a huge part of our skill set. If you’ve discussed this in advance with your couple then they will be more likely to go out in it with you. Remember they might not understand why they believed your photos are better than others they saw when they were researching photographers but you can help explain it. If your portfolio is full of golden hour images, point out that these only happen at a certain point in the day.

Choosing your locations wisely is a big part of what can make a photo exceptional. Look for backgrounds that will add compositional elements, not distract from your subjects. They should frame them in a way that is pleasing to the eye and leading lines are terrific for this. Neil had fun with this concept by using the carpark arrows wisely. It plays with this compositional rule and exaggerates it to great effect.

The final part is using the tools that we have in post-production to enhance images. Neil wanted to retain that wonderful sky so underexposed with a low ISO knowing that the couple could be pulled up in exposure and lifted out of the silhouette.

It’s a winning formula that could be written as –

Willing Subjects + Good Light + Interesting Location + Post Production = Farmers Image Of The Week

Nikon D780 | Nikon 35mm 1.4G | f/2 | 1/3200| ISO 100

own preset

What Neil Said…

“The couple got married at the stunning Glasgow University Chapel and had their reception in the centre of Glasgow. I was good with the photos I got at the chapel but knew I would get some pretty evening light. So I said to the couple after dinner, “I am super happy with the photos I got earlier but if you guys are up for it then I know a roof top near by”. They were up for it! So the rooftop is the top floor of a car park. It has an excellent view of the cityscape of Glasgow so I took the obvious photos but just as I finished I noticed the texture in the sky. And then I started looking for a horizon point where they’d be against the sky and the evening light. Then I noticed the arrows…

I underexposed in camera to preserve the detail in the sky. I shot at the lowest ISO so I could recover clean shadow details in post-production (they were a silhouette in the camera). To balance the frame I made sure they were in the centre between the two arrows. I also used the rule of thirds to relate the end of the arrows to the top of the couple. Direction wise I told them to walk across and for the groom to look back at the bride when I shouted, ‘look!'”